TDC Offers Guidelines To Help Agents Prevent Child Sex Tourism

Open Jaw

Transat Distribution Canada (TDC) has made public new guidelines designed to help travel agents across the country be better equipped to prevent child sex tourism.


"For years now, we have been raising awareness among our employees, partners and customers, so that everybody understands that the sexual exploitation of children and teens is a crime. Today, we are going one step further, in the hope that all travel agents in Canada will join in the effort," says TDC GM Joseph Adamo.


Since 2010, Transat has partnered with Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada, a non-governmental organization that promotes the rights of children and is actively engaged in the fight against all forms of child exploitation. Transat says it was the first tour operator in Canada to offer child and teen sex tourism awareness training to its employees, and has spoken out against the issue in a broad effort to make all travellers aware that this is a crime.


"Of course, this is a very sensitive issue, and only a small number of travellers will eventually engage in this activity, but travel advisors across the country cannot remain passive," notes Susan Bowman, TDC VP, Marketing and Industry Relations.


"So, today, we are sharing our guidelines with the entire community, to help agents deal with sensitive situations that occur from time to time," she adds. "Our message is clear: our 3,000 advisors, in our 540 agencies, are urged to refuse to sell a trip to anybody explicitly travelling to have sex with minors. But this will be useless if customers just cross the street and go to another agency. This is an appeal to the entire community of travel agents in Canada: let's do this together."


Transat says there is a widely held myth that tourists who sexually exploit children and teens are exclusively pedophiles. In fact, so-called situational offenders are the most common type of sex tourist.


They may be men or women, married or single, and from all socio-economic backgrounds. They most likely do not plan to exploit a minor before leaving the country on business or for a holiday, and would never dare engage in such acts at home.


They take advantage of their stay in another country to have an "exotic" experience, perhaps under the impression that their actions are tolerated under local laws and customs, and believing that by paying money for sex, they will be financially "helping" the child and his or her family.


Transat says it believes there is reason to hope that the behaviour of situational offenders can be changed, if as many people as possible are made aware of this issue.


To that end, for the past five years the company has supported the annual Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada Media Awards, which recognize journalists across the country for reporting on issues related to sexual exploitation of children and teens.


In addition, Transat has published a Q & A for travel agents to help evaluate what actions, if any, should be taken.

For example:

The customer hasn’t done anything wrong, but I have reason to believe there is ill intent. Is there something I can do at this stage? Can I report the person?

You can transmit the customer’s name to the Canadian organization if you have substantial grounds to believe they intend to commit sexual offence with children and/or adolescents. You can discuss the situation with your supervisor before filing a report. is Canada’s tip line for reporting the sexual exploitation of children, online or elsewhere, and external is a program operated by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. A reporting person has the option of remaining anonymous.

To consult the Q and A for travel agents, and to learn more about the issue of child sexual exploitation around the world, click here.

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